Our response to horrific injustice

Written by Shawn Naylor

This summer, there was a huge unveiling of some of the atrocities committed against First Nations children. I am fully aware that this news is just the re-opening of deep wounds for others.

I know this hasn’t been the only gut-wrenching event carried out in the name of God. Blasphemy. These actions speak of actually wanting to eradicate a particular group of people—individuals created in the image of God. These actions do not speak of spreading the good news.

It saddens me deeply to see the sickness of mankind on full display. It goes to show us that evil intentions combined with power can do powerfully evil things. Some of us may have experienced genocide up close, but I’m sure that many of us have not.

Yet I’m sure you have probably been hurt by a leader. A leader who was probably elected by others. This person seemed right for the job, but he or she failed.  

How do we lead when other leaders fail and trust is eroded? I must confess, I’m still working though this. But let me share with you where I start when I face a tough choice, my own brokenness, failure, weakness or disaster. These are the truths I repeat:

  • Nothing catches God by surprise.
  • God is the victor, the vindicator, and the one who redeems. 
  • God’s love is all consuming.
  • I am lost and can do nothing unless I have Christ.

Now that you have these truths in front of you, let me ask again: What do we do when the people and organizations we trust in fail?

The Church has failed the First Nations. The horrors of residential schools have left the current and upcoming generations of Church leaders with the weight of these consequences. And the devastating discovery of unmarked graves at residential schools is not the only area where trust has been broken.

We have seen Christian heroes like Ravi Zacharias fall disastrously, leaving Christians in North America holding the hot potato. Although these two examples differ drastically in scale, they both point to leadership failure and the need for truth, openness, and accountability in the future.

As Scripture says, “It is an abomination for kings to commit wickedness, for a throne is established by righteousness” (Proverbs 16:12, NKJV).

Going forward, we must freely and openly discuss the failures of the past, lest we think we could never do something like that. Putting light where darkness can take residence is a remedy that leads to victory. Doing the right thing is never easy, but it is necessary to reach the impact the Bible speaks about. 

During the sermon on the mount, Jesus said: 

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:13-16).

What can we take from this particular passage in the Bible and apply to our present-day issues? No matter the darkness that has been produced by those who profess to be Christian, no matter the errors that they made, it is our duty to let our righteousness shine through into those dark places.

As we lead into the unknown, feeling the weight of terrible atrocities, we know Christ has died for the sins of all humanity and He works together all things for good. So, we must listen in love and critically assess both our actions and those of others so we can improve.

We must seek to rectify and redeem. To do so, we must look at the wrongs deeply and be brutally honest with ourselves, knowing that it might hurt us and make us vulnerable. But in that vulnerability, peace and restoration can be made.

I think of a person unwilling to go through the pain of being cut open to receive surgery. Without the pain of an operation, the restoration cannot happen. Afterward, time must elapse while the surgery heals before the individual can be healed.

Likewise, we must take the time to deal with the surgery needed to repair the destructions we face. And when the time comes, and the therapy and the discussions have taken place, we can move forward better and stronger than ever. We can turn the disaster into something that produces goodness in the generations to come.